Introducing John Gadret.

Beating a host of top names on Tuesday's tough 16th stage of the Giro was the current French nationa

Beating a host of top names on Tuesday's tough 16th stage of the Giro was the current French nationa

PHOTO BY TDWSPORT.COM

Damiano Cunego, Paolo Savoldelli, Danilo Di Luca: all were beaten on Tuesday's 16th stage of the Giro from Rovato to the finish atop the climb of Monte Bondone in the Dolomites by current French cyclo-cross champion John Gadret - who bears more than a passing resemblance to the late, great Marco Pantani.

The 27 year old, who hails from Epernay, near Calais, in northern France, started out as, and still very much is, a cyclo-cross specialist. But after a spell as a stagiaire on the road with northern-France-based Cofidis in 2003, Gadret joined the Belgian Chocolade Jacques team for 2004, winning his first cyclo-cross national title before finishing 13th overall at that year's Tour of Britain, riding in support of team-mate and overall winner Mauricio Ardila (now of Rabobank). He then rode the 2005 season for the lowly Belgian continental team Jartazi before Vincent Lavenu snapped him up for Ag2r this season.

On Tuesday at the Giro, Gadret beat former team-mate Ardila, who trailed in 6-39 down on stage winner Ivan Basso. Gadret was just 2-40 down on race leader Basso, finishing fifth. This followed a similarly gutsy ride on Saturday's stage 13, when he finished seventh, taking some major scalps in the process.

Now, rather than dwelling on Gadret's Ag2r team leader and erstwhile hope for Tour de France success, the aging Christophe Moreau, perhaps the Tour-success-hungry French nation will be keeping a sharper eye on what their cyclo-crossers are up to. His 'cross background could certainly make him a good bet for Wednesday's off-road section up to the stage finish on the Plan de Corones.

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
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